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Tracking is lost while directly facing either base station

Bobby Hood

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This is regarding a Vive with 1.0 base stations using wireless sync at opposite corners of the room. They're exactly 16 feet apart, 7 feet high. It's been working fine for 3 years in this room, and now this just started happening. I've made zero changes to my setup.

If I directly face one of the two base stations so that the the opposite station is blocked from the headset, it loses tracking and the image goes all gray. Sometimes it flickers gray. The sound is unaffected. If I turn and face a direction where the headset can see both base stations again, the image comes back. The same thing happens when I face either station. It began happening suddenly 2 days ago and has been perfectly consistent ever since.

I've tested each station individually, setting them to channel A and removing power from the other one. Both track perfectly when I use them individually (until I turn away from it of course). I connected them to bluetooth to see if there were any updates but there were not. I use Vive wireless so bluetooth is never connected so I know it didn't do any updates on its own.

I've tried power cycling everything involved, alternating channels B and C between stations, covering up or removing any potentially reflective objects in the room, closing all blinds, and turning off all lights and wifi.

I have not tried a sync cable yet because I can't find one long enough, so I have one ordered. But I've never needed one before now.


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@Bobby Hood With 1.0 stations that normally indicates that one or both of the laser/rotors in that basestation isn't functioning normally. The original firmware from Valve on those stations lacked error-detection. If you're on a recent version of firmware - they should self-report via SteamVR back to you that there is a problem.

For reflections - look for them within SteamVR's system report:

"Reflective surfaces" in practice are extraordinarily hard to track down without specialized equipment because materials interact differently with IR light than optical light. A material may not be reflective in the visible spectrum but may be highly reflective in the IR spectrum; the same is true with opacity, some visibly opaque materials will be complete transparent in IR and vice versa. To detect reflections, generate a system report or open up the SteamVR web console and search for the term "back-facing". I'll post an example of what a reflection looks like in the logs below.

  • Sun Jun 26 2016 23:02:09.676 - lighthouse: LHR-4E8EF209 H: Dropped 32312 back-facing hits, 2069 non-clustered hits during the previous tracking session
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@HackPerception It started happening to both base stations at the same time. I'm not getting any reports from SteamVR that there is an issue. They are on the latest firmware.

I captured a video of what is happening. When facing either base station the tracking is lost.

I've also attached the console output. It's seeing reflections but they seem inconsistent. Could it be that the front of the headset is causing reflections? It only happens when I'm looking directly at a station.




Edited by Bobby Hood
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@Bobby Hood - 30K back-facing hits is certainly way more than enough to cause a greyout and loss of tracking. Within the logs, you can then try to correlate if there is a status change around the timestamp of those back-facing hits. If you correlate the greyout to the back-facing hits, there's your problem.

This is the best way I've seen to try and detect reflections without specialized equipment. You can use any light source like your smartphone, but if you can mount a headlamp like they did, you can move around your room and see the reflections on  surfaces from various angles.

You can try taking a cell phone camera to a basestation while it's spinning and ensure that you see the two tracking lasers where I circled (one from each laser/rotor unit). If you only see one dot instead of the two dots I circled, you may have a station with a broken laser/rotor that's not reporting to SteamVR.



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